The line manager as a people manager

Managing People

Most managers’ jobs consist of three parts: doing things, managing things and managing and leading people. Most managers did not set out to become managers. They started their working life as someone who was “doing something” e.g. nursing, teaching and then moved on to being a manager of things and then of people.

For many managers the part of their work that they find most satisfying (and easy) is the doing things. The managing things e.g. budgets, plans may be less satisfying but not too challenging whereas managing and leading people may be less satisfying and also very challenging and uncomfortable. For this reason many managers remain busy doing things and fail to give enough time to the management aspects of their role particularly the managing and leading people role.

Managers are often resistant to undertaking their managing and leading people role because it is:

·         not what they do best

·         not what they were trained for

·         time consuming

·         difficult to see the benefits. It often feels as if you are “doing something for HR” and not for the improvement of your own team or organisation

·         uncomfortable dealing with people and particularly in difficult situations

John Adair’s ‘action-centred leadership’ task-team-individual model

Leadership is based on three overlapping circles of needs, each of which needs line manager attention:

Using the task-team-individual model in practice

Think about the aspects of performance necessary for success in your own situation, and incorporate local relevant factors into the model to create your own interpretation. This will give you a useful management framework:

Your responsibilities as a manager for achieving the task are:

·         identify aims and vision and direction

·         identify resources, people, processes, systems, tools, budgets

·         create the plan to achieve the task – deliverables, measures, timescales, strategy and tactics

·         establish responsibilities, objectives, accountabilities and measures, by agreement and delegation

·         set standards, quality, time and reporting parameters

·         control and maintain activities against parameters

·         monitor and maintain overall performance against plan

·         report on progress towards the group’s aim

·         review, re-assess, adjust plan, methods and targets as necessary

Your responsibilities as a manager for the team are:

·         establish, agree, communicate standards of performance and behaviour

·         establish style, culture, approach of the group monitor and maintain discipline, ethics, integrity and focus on objectives

·         anticipate and resolve group conflict, struggles or disagreements

·         assess and change as necessary the balance and composition of the group

·         develop team-working, cooperation, morale and team-spirit

·         encourage and motivate the group the team towards objectives and aims

·         identify, develop and agree team- and project-leadership roles

·         enable and ensure effective internal and external group communications

·         identify and meet group training needs

·         give feedback to the group on overall progress; consult with, and seek feedback and input from the group

·         develop the collective capability of the group – progressively increase group freedom and authority

Your responsibilities as a manager for each individual are:

·         understand the team members as individuals – personality, skills, strengths, needs, aims and fears

·         assist and support individuals – plans, challenges, highs and lows

·         identify and agree appropriate individual responsibilities and objectives

·         give recognition and praise to individuals – acknowledge effort

·         where appropriate reward individuals with extra responsibility, advancement and status

·         identify, develop and utilise each individual’s capabilities and strengths

·         train and develop individual team members

·         develop individual authority and freedom

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